Former Arizona Governor, U.S. Ambassador Raúl Héctor Castro Dies

04/10/2015 11:56 am ET | Updated Apr 10, 2015

Former Arizona Gov. Raúl Héctor Castro (D), the first Latino to hold the position in the state, died at age 98.

According to a family spokesman, the former governor died in his sleep in San Diego.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) announced Castro's death in a Friday statement:

"It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of Arizona's cherished former Governor, Raúl Héctor Castro.

Arizonans will never forget Governor Castro. He was an honorable public servant, a history-maker, a beloved family man and a strong friend and fighter for Arizona. Whether as a county attorney, a superior court judge, a United States ambassador or - as we will best remember him - our 14th governor, his life and legacy of service is forever ingrained in our history. The thoughts and prayers of all Arizonans are with Governor Castro's family and loved ones during this difficult time.

While our state will grieve this immense loss, it's also important to celebrate the esteemed life and legacy of a great man who lived a full life of exemplary service to Arizona and its people."

Ducey ordered all state flags to be lowered to half-mast in commemoration of Castro's life.

Castro, who was born in Mexico and later worked as an attorney in Tucson, served as a judge on the Pima County Superior Court from 1959 to 1964. He was then appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson as U.S. ambassador to El Salvador, and then later as the envoy to Bolivia.

He then returned to the United States to run for governor in Arizona. He was elected in 1974 and served until 1977, when President Jimmy Carter appointed him as U.S. ambassador to Argentina.

Castro made headlines in 2012 when he was detained at a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint. He was held for more than 30 minutes after his pacemaker triggered a radiation sensor.

“I feel they’ve got a job to do and I don’t condemn them for doing a job,” Castro told MSNBC at the time. “But once I was identified and I was 96 years of age and told them I had medical treatment the day before, I expected a little more.”

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